Saturday, December 15, 2007

What a crazy week!

Well, you all know the surprise I got (if you don't, just read the post below this one). But the week was such a crazy one, that I didn't really have time to blog much about anything, and there was a LOT to blog about!

First off: Monday evening, we started getting rain and garbage - if you even glanced at the TV, you KNOW the midwest had that ice storm. For whatever odd reason, our area, the Manhattan/Ft. Riley/Junction City area, was hit particularly hard. We averaged close to an inch of ICE by the time the storm passed. We worried that the power would go out. This is particularly a concern in the middle of the night. Luckily, we managed to pass the night with power. Of course, there was no school! Around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, the lights flickered and flickered and out they went. We were "deaf and blind" TV to watch the weather moving through, and no radio (no stations that we could catch, anyway) to listen to, other than the weather radio, and it didn't give enough local info for us. We cleaned like crazy (well, I did, anyway) since that was the plan to begin with. Because of the ice, Scott didn't have to report for work that day. He entertained the kids most of the time. It was a LOOOOONG day without power. Somewhere around 3:00 p.m., Scott decided it was cold enough in the house (it went down to about 65°) and decided to fire up the gas fireplace.

Let me take an aside here and mention that we are not particularly fond of fireplaces in general. The hot air generally goes up the flue and they can be really messy; they also take up too much valuable "wall real estate" and arranging furniture can be a chore. With that said, we can usually be found placing our entertainment center in front of the fireplace. We did that here...after turning off the pilot and the gas lines, of course.

So...back to the story: We had to get the pilot lit...and it wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. There is NO obvious PLACE to light the pilot - this particular fireplace had an ignition button, like on your good old gas grill, and (like your good old gas grill) it was NOT very cooperative. Scott tried for the better part of a half hour to get it going. He finally did, and we were rewarded with the smell of burning dust (I did the best I could, but hey, it's got fake logs and stuff.....) AND heat. The heat rose several degrees within an hour. We could deal with that. We had the "built in" refrigerator that was our back deck (along with a rubbermaid bin filled with shoveled up ice/sleet/slush) and were preparing to cook our burgers on the grill. I went out to see my neighbor Lashawn, who had her garage door open (I needed to know how to open ours in case of emergency - darned automatic garage doors!) and right around that time, we got our power back. We are blessed with underground cabling, and it was only our grid that went out. We have had a few "brown outs" but no loss of power since.

Others we know have not been as blessed - some are still without power as I type.

I wasn't able to get in touch with my sister as she was preparing to come visit. I wanted to let her know the status of our area, and to be prepared to be cold if the power went out again. But luckily, Kansas City International airport got little ice and they were not delayed at all.

So on Wednesday, I put my best foot forward (onto the gas pedal) and drove to KCI, fully expecting to pick up Sue and Donna. It was such a surprise to see my mother come off the plane! First off, the only time she EVER flew before this time was when Hannah was born...that was in February of 2001. She truly enjoyed flying, and said she'd do it again. Of course, that was 2001, and we all know what happened in September. She said she'd never fly again. So...I'm waiting in front of the gate, with the kids (no school AGAIN for Hannah due to ice and power outages), and this woman walks off...and my first thought was "wow, that woman looks SO much like Mom"...and then I saw my sister right behind her, and realized that it WAS my mom. They managed to keep it a total surprise! We loaded them up and headed back home to Manhattan. They were both amazed at all the ice. It really was an incredible sight to see. For dinner that evening, Scott treated us all to HuHot - an amazing Mongolian Grill restaurant. Mom and Sue thoroughly enjoyed it. It is apparently a mostly Midwest thing, but Sue is going to talk to her boss and see about getting a franchise up north! It was an early night for everyone.

On Thursday, Sue and I headed out to do some Christmas shopping. She figured it would be easier to get stuff for the kids here rather than ship it all later. Some of what she was getting is "sensitive electronic" stuff and didn't want it to get ruined. She helped get some of MY last minute shopping done, and we headed back home. Mom stayed home with the kids (day 3 of no school for Hannah) for some much needed grandkid time. Did I mention that the last time she saw the kids was in June of 2005 before we moved to Germany? Yeah...2 1/2 years! They got lots of loving and attention! We ate supper at home (crockpot chicken, mashed potatoes, corn....) and just hung out with the kiddos. Scott headed out for his dress rehearsal for the concert on Friday. Again, a bit of an early night, but really necessary.

On Friday, we hung at at home most of the morning. Scott actually headed in to the office for the first time since Monday - we'd been mostly shut down - and Hannah was STILL out of school. Scott was determined to have his 2nd annual Holiday Concert go on as planned. There were a few glitches, though. The powers that be wanted final say on whether the "show would go on" or not. Then, in the late morning, our home phone rang and it was Ralph Hipp, who was to be the guest Master of Ceremonies for the concert. He would be unable to attend due to yet another impending storm, this time it would be SNOW. I had him call Scott, as I did NOT want to be the bearer of such bad news. Luckily, we had someone come through for us at the VERY last moment - the unit's former First Sergeant, who is currently outprocessing OUT of the Army (retiring). He was willing to do this, with NO rehearsal at all. Gotta love a band guy, because he is so familiar with the inner workings of the band that he can just step in!

Scott headed to a meeting around noon, to find out whether his concert was on or not. The rest of us decided to go out - I wanted to show Mom and Sue Ft. Riley a bit. We went to Junction City to eat at Cracker Barrel (mom's first time!) and then went to Ft. Riley. Wow...the devastation was incredible. The ice really did some SERIOUS damage to the trees...there were so many downed trees, limbs, branches. We saw several just splintered into a million pieces. As of now, the PX still doesn't have power. CRAZY.

We headed home, since we'd heard from Scott that the concert was a go. Everyone cleaned up, I fed the kiddos, and made sure the sitter was still coming. Shannon dropped her oldest daughter off (Meadow was coming to the concert) and I got Hannah all dolled up in her pretty new dress, bought JUST for the concert. We decided it would be prudent to leave Scott home, as he just doesn't have the attention span for a concert. This was to be Hannah's first time since she was a toddler....

The concert was wonderful - the singers all MARVELOUS. I will try to get audio or video on here sometime soon. Scott orchestrated not only a concert, but an amazing variety show. There was a variety of music. He pooled talent from military spouses (Shannon, whom I've spoken about here before, made my mom cry with an AMAZING rendition of O Holy Night), he enlisted local celebrity (Ralph Hipp, though you've heard what happened). He got dancers from Kansas State University to perform the 3 Dances from the Nutcracker. He had the reading of "T'was The Night Before Christmas"...and the "jolly old elf" himself showed up for a quick visit! There was an audience sing-a-long, too. But I think the very best thing was the "Shout Outs" - soliders stationed at Ft. Riley, but currently deployed to Iraq sent their loved ones greetings between numbers. And the last number of the show was the clincher. "All I Want For Christmas Is You", sung by SGT Renatta Draper, complete with background vocals, and a streaming video of 1ID soldiers hard at work in Iraq. I was proud to have my mom and sister be there to see what my husband works so hard for.

As we left McCain Auditorium, a light snow began to fall. We headed to Houlihan's for a dessert. Shannon and Meadow joined us. By the time we left, the snow was falling heavily. Not a good precursor for the trip back to KCI in the morning. We were all tired when we got home and hit the hay shortly thereafter.

This morning, much too soon for me, I took mom and Sue back to the airport. The drive was okay...snowy, and then sleet closer to the airport. It was a sad time. I really missed my family, and it was nice to have them in my home for even a few short days.


Airline tickets: 2
Surprised daughter: 1
hugs and kisses: millions - too many to count
laughs shared: hundreds upon hundreds
tears shed: many
photographs taken: over 200 by Sue, at least 48 by mom, a few by me
happiness quotient: too high to measure
having family visit: priceless

I will update this post with pictures - but first I need to resize them to a workable size - Sue's camera was set at the BEST resolution and so the pictures are 48" x 32"!!!!!

Come back for pictures, 'k?


Linda said...

I got your comment on my blog and just now am getting around to being on the computer for a little bit (technical difficulties). Anyway, so good to hear from someone from Maine and also a military wife. You're blog is great. Hope to hear from you again.

Linda said...

Okay this is really weird. Not only am I a Southerner living in Maine. Our names are the same, but now reading the rest of your blog, so are our birthdays!!

SB said...

glad you've survived the ice. I was worried. I didn't want to call and interrupt precious family time.
Greg is on leave for THREE WEEKS. Call me whenever you want. I have oodles to tell you.

Debbie said...

Linda, what a wonderful surprise to have your mom visit! Sure sounds like you enjoyed some great family time.

Cheers for Scott and his wonderful job with the concert!

Charmaine (CharmWarm on SCS) said...

What a wonderful time despite all of the weather complications! You gave me chills talking about the concert. . .it sounded wonderful! We REALLY have to meet because we may be married to the same man! LOL Just kidding. . .the concert sounded A LOT like the ones my husband puts on with his symphony! (the variety show) So happy you had a time well spent with family! Truly priceless!

Sue said...

Hey Chickie, wrap away :) you get my drift LOL

Christy said...

Again what an AWESOME surprise for your mom to be able to visit!! My parents still don't have electricity. Mom called me yesterday on her cell phone (their land-line phones are all out too). They had been working on power lines about a mile to 1 1/2 miles from their house on Friday and the line that's at my parents old house, my grandma's now former house (same house) the transformer, well the pole it's on cracked in two (it's a HUGE telephone pole) they will not have electricity until that one is fixed, so be in prayer that it gets fixed by Monday. My parents have a fireplace (takes wood) and my brother has a wood burning stove so heat wasn't an issue for either of them, and they're all grilling their foods. My parents borrowed my grandparents generator so they have had their fridge hooked up, they hook the tv up for news, and then at night the alarm clock. I can still remember the ice storm of '91...we were out of electricity for 4 days I believe.

Welcome to Kansas ice storm! I hope the kids can at least have fun in the snow, build some snowmen, have a snowball fight, snow here for us yet! I really hope we have a White Christmas. I think you guys have a REALLY good chance of having one!

God Bless

Surcie said...

Wow, that is one great surprise!!